posted on July 5, 2007 at 4:41 am

he was looking around as the bus opened its doors
surely this was …no
but yes….
stockholm ….a freezing winter afternoon
outside the tube station in st eriksplan
he shivered and shook
the snow had stopped falling
the world was cold and frozen
headlights glanced off the snow and ice
and everything seemed to be saying
go away you dont belong here
it didnt matter where the bus would go….he thought
anywheres better than this here right now
he stepped onto the bus
he couldnt really get an impression of the driver
but he when he proffered some money
the man had jerked his head towards the back of the bus
a load of wretched shadows sat fidgeting in the seats
and it was cold inside
shteeve ?said the man next to me
as i sat down
halfway up the bus
shteeve…..its janne!
i peered closely in the feeble light of the bus
at the man
outside the icy suburbs went past..
remember someone pushed me under a train.. janne said
im dead now shteeve he added sadly
janne had been a 2 bit connexion down at the station
he would connect you with the man for a quarter of the pie
sometimes he even sold the stuff himself
but that had been long ago
now he mostly scrounged
now was a long time ago too
he was killed in a dodgy “accident” waiting for a train
and he’d been dead awhile
sometimes on cold days like this
i’d naively let him come to my flat
have something hot to drink
but the miserable gollum like creature just stole from me
and would then lie pathetically when caught in the act
where are we going janne i asked
to T -centralen.. he said…..where-else…?
hey mr kilbeee called out a harsh female voice
a strong looking woman
with a tough face and broad cheekbones
came up the aisle of the bus
what the fuck man? she said
ha ha ha! she roared and coughed and spat
hey everybody its my friend from australia mr kilbeee
they all came crowding around
yes steve! said a large fat swedish guy who looked like kris kringle
leffe …didnt you hang yourself…i tried to call you that very day
yes steve ….i know
and your wife..?
yes steve shes here too
an emaciated young woman who looked like a scrawny kitten
popped her head out
hi steve she whispered soundlessly
leffe had been a cab driver
hed met his wife
a lot younger than him
she was an addict-prostitute
he worked n then bought n sold drugs
so she wouldnt have to sell herself
but of course it all went awry
he started taking the stuff himself
and she couldnt stop earning a bit extra on the side
they were dealers together
it was the saddest shambles you can imagine
she propositioned all the customers
do i still have it?
pulling open a dirty dressing gown
to show you her heroin ravaged corpse like body
she gave me many free caps of the stuff
i guess i had been the sanest and nicest of all their customers
they sometimes invited me to stay and have a cuppa tea n swedish cakes
sometimes i’d go around and she had dropped capsules all over the place
they were both nodding out or asleep
people would just pick stuff up n piss off
then theyd wake up and wonder why all the stuff was gone
he got behind in his payments to the nasty people at the top o the chain
she used more n more and turned more n more tricks
and took rohypnols by the handfull
i went round there once and he was crying
after an unfatal overdose on pills
saying i dont know how to even kill myself steve…
but i figured it out in the end ,didnt i ?…leffe said
interrupted my thoughts
carina said and you know this guy…
enrico ruiz revilla ! i said
a handsome latin young guy stuck out his hand
hey man!
what happened to you, rico?
ah just an o.d. he said
enrico would meet his customers outside a certain clock in town
you had to be there at 12 or 4
he’d turn up and a swarm of hungry junkies would engulf him
as usual i used to get to know them
these misfits n outcasts selling dope on the mean winter streets
i’d get to see another side of them
you see most were lonely and friendless
and i was the only “reasonable” kind of person they knew
you dont look or act like an addict they said to me
and so they trusted me or confided in me
and sometimes i saw their homes
here was a finnish speedfreak working girl with only one arm
she hadda ask people to help her shoot up
it was not something one wanted to have to do
there was ulla the old whore
who stalked her daughter whod been taken away from her
and a greek pickpocket who nicked cream buns for our morning tea
the african guys…i never really knew all their names
a russian guy who ripped me off and….
standing tall and thin
thomas who was some kind of scholar and teacher
with a fiancee and a real house of his own
before addiction stripped him bare
and rolled him out onto the streets
thomas? what happened? i asked quietly
oh yeah hey steve..
thomas had a very upperclass accent when he spoke english
he looked like he coulda made the grade
he even got off for a long time once
but he’d retained a smouldering fascination
with the underworld
i’d seen him once
this is true
he had gotten free
he was walking thru the underground one night
with a bunch of la de dah business men n women
all swedish n correct
going out on a friday night
for a nice meal and a show
then i spotted thomas
changed now
grown healthy n clean
dressed in a suit
chatting with his friends
when by chance he saw the sorry collection of ratbags waiting to score
i heard him say to his friends
excuse me can we stop?
i want to watch this…..
and he stood and vicariously lived the whole thing
saw the money n drugs change hands
and walked away smiling…
ah but alas now
he was a hollow cheeked unshaven scruffy thomas the addict
who died miserably eventually unable to get of the stuff n pills
oh the stuff n pills
a lethal multiplying combo
thats knocks people right outta their seat
and gets em down low in jails rehabs n morgues
carina said
so you finally ended up here with the rest of us kilbeee?
but what is this bus? i asked
thomas sighed
we’re all going to score
i think youd call us hungry ghosts….
but i dont use anymore! i said looking round at them
carina laughed a big ho ho ho like a female pirate
leffe smiled and janna next to me scoffed
the whole bus found some grim merriment in this
what are you doing here then? demanded carina hoarsely
i watched the bus pull into the central station
cmon she said
time to get off!
the whole miserable crew alighted from the bus
and swarmed thru the stockholm underground
like the onset of a dismal plague
as in life
as in death
carina led the rabble and seemed to know the score
she put her hand out and the various characters
gave her 500 crowns in various denominations
mr kilbee..hurry now…i got no time to fuck about..
i numbly handed over my money
my intuition said
this is not good but it may be alright
carina disappeared down to the blue line for her rendezvous
the others were all antsy and jumpy
smoking ravenously on foul cigarettes
or arguing with each other feebly…
was this really the afterlife?
and if it was
why was i here?
thomas said
hey man if you can lend me 250 crowns
i will tell you everything
i felt in my pocket
i pulled out 2 hundreds and 2 twenties
det racker he said in swedish
its enough he said in english
my friend you are so stupid
he said with his running red nose
and his watery eyes
you are not really here at all
not like we are here
you got off the stuff and you come back?
why is everybody in your story dead?
except you i mean
and you hope…
he lit up a marlboro red and winced as he exhaled
im so fucking sick man he said
cant i lend another tva fempty
i found some more money
he snatched it greedily
i pay you back he said
sure i said
what do you fucking mean sure? he said getting angry
sure youll pay me back i said
hey fuck your dream or whatever it is! he said
the others shush shush shush
anyway says thomas presently
you need to watch yourself man
you are still alive by the way he said
you were never a proper junky anyway he added
carina suddenly came back looking troubled
there was a group wailing and gnashing of teeth
as she shook her head sadly
and then
ha ha ha ! she smiled to reveal a mouthful of little white capsules
i watched in amazement as the ghoulish dope fiends
fixed up there n then on the spot
and as each one fixed up
they slowly dissolved and disappeared
soon only carina and i were left
she spat out a cap and tossed it to me
i told ya carina im clean now i said
i know you are
she said
i got something different for you
she sat down
and got out her doings
and cooked up n then fixed a big hit
just like the cheshire cat
she laughed and laughed as she vanished
only her smiling lips remained
oh she said and she was gone
i looked down at what she had thrown me
as i undid the little packet
it started to unfold out into a map
and the map was growing and growing
a map of space and time
somewhere out there
was where i was sposed to be
i jumped into the map and headed south-past
way back



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